For two months now, India’s second-largest IT company has not been able to iron out the kinks in the country’s income tax portal.
Since its launch on June 7, the new platform developed by Infosys has been glitching. On the very first day, users reported issues with logging in, generating one-time paswords, linking old data, and filing returns. The company had then tweeted it was “making progress to address the technical issues” within a week but even by mid-August, Indians were unable to load pages, access returns from previous years, or verify their returns, among other things.
On Aug. 22, the income tax department’s official Twitter handle said the finance ministry had summoned Infosys CEO Salil Parekh to explain why the new tax portal was still overridden with problems. India’s finance and corporate affairs minister Nirmala Sitharaman retweeted the scathing post.
Several hours after the income tax department’s outcry, Infosys claimed that after emergency maintenance, the site was up and running.
But whether it’s a permanent fix or a temporary band-aid remains to be seen. After all, Infosys’ track record hasn’t been stellar when it comes to deploying government software.
This isn’t the first time Infosys has goofed up an Indian government project.
In 2013, the company was awarded a Rs357 crore ($49 million) project to develop the Ministry of Corporate Affairs’s e-governance portal , MCA-21. In March 2016, when a new version of the portal was rolled out, it faced major technical issues. Companies grappled with frequent changes in versions of forms, portal outages, forms being marked for resubmission with no reason given, and more.
In 2015, the Bengaluru-based behemoth bagged the Rs1,380 crore project to build the IT backbone for the goods and services tax network (GSTN). From January 2019 to June 2021, the authorities paid Infosys Rs164.5 crore to build the new tax e-filing portal. But this portal, too, faced immense backlash. Traders complained of the inability to rectify errors, a lack of forms, issues regarding processing applications, and bugs in the software that slow the system.
In every instance—be it issues with MCA-21, GSTN, or the income tax portal—taxpayers have desperately asked the government to penalise Infosys and forego late fees and give reimbursements to inconvenienced citizens.
Moreover, this performance issue has pointed a harsh spotlight on the company’s competence, with several Twitter users calling its talent subpar. That’s actually a problem with the industry as a whole. In India, less than 5% of engineers exhibit good coding skills since the education system is mostly textbook-based and few students do multiple internships before entering the workforce.